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Quick Fried Beef Empanadas (Pastel de Carne Rápido)

Thinking of something quick to make for your next get-together or party? These fried beef empanadas (pastel de carne) will both save you time and make your guests quite happy.

The secret for preparing them quickly is to use wonton wraps instead of making the dough from scratch. 😉  Basically, the only difference between these and the traditional fried beef empanadas is the use of the prepared wonton wraps.

pastel de carne

In my home country of Brazil, traditional fried beef empanadas can have either a half-moon shape (often used for the smaller sized empanadas) or an envelope shape (typical for the jumbo size).  They are one of the most popular pastries to serve as party appetizers, as well as for quick snacks.  Beef empanadas are available from street vendors (where they are frequently served with chilled cane sugar), at cafés, bakeries, and specialty shops known as pastelarias (empanada shops).

Although the origin of empanadas (pastéis) is controversial, there is strong evidence that points to Asia, meaning that empanadas likely developed from Chinese eggrolls and Japanese gyozas. Both were adapted to whatever ingredients were available in Brazil during World War II, and then sold by Japanese immigrants and their descendants, beginning in the state of São Paulo.  They were such a hit that they quickly started being marketed both at empanadas shops (pastelarias) and at street markets all over the country.

Fried Beef Empanadas

Of note, among all the various types of fillings for the empanadas, ground beef is the most popular.  If you would like to find out why, make a batch and give them a try!

Print Recipe
Quick Fried Beef Empanadas (Pastel de Carne)
These small fried beef empanadas are quick and delicious! They can be served as an appetizer or an afternoon snack.
Votes: 7
Rating: 4.29
Rate this recipe!
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Brazilian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Brazilian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Votes: 7
Rating: 4.29
Rate this recipe!
  1. In a medium non-stick skillet, heat the oil and sweat the onion over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and let cook for about 1 minute, stirring occasionaly (NOTE: The purpose is to cook the onion and garlic, NOT to brown them). Increase heat to medium-high and brown the ground beef, stirring every now and then. Stir in both the salt and pepper, and then the tomato paste. Stir in the vinegar or lime juice. Let ground beef cook, uncovered, for about 5-7 minutes or until cooked throughout, stirring occasionally. Stir in the olives (optional) and the chopped cilantro or parsley. Let cool a bit before filling the wonton wraps.
  2. Place the wonton wraps on preparation surface. Fill each with 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of the cooked ground beef mixture and brush the egg white around the edges.
  3. Overlay another wonton wrap on top on the filling and seal edges well, pressing firmly with your fingers. Using a fork, make a pattern over the edges.
  4. Heat a frying machine or a heavy-bottom pot to 350 degrees F (about 180 degrees C). If you don't have a thermometer to measure the temperature, dip a small piece of a wonton wrap into the heated oil. If you hear a sizzling sound, the oil is ready. Fry the filled beef empanadas, a few at a time, turning them while frying so that they brown evenly on both sides. The first and second batches will take about 3-4 minutes while the next batches will only take 1-1/2 to 2 minutes to fry because the oil will be hotter. They should be lightly golden and crisp. They will darken further once they are draining on paper towels.
  5. Transfer empanadas to a baking sheet lined with a double layer of paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Serve empanadas hot by themselves, with ketchup or rosé sauce, or accompanied by guaraná soda, cane juice, or beer.
Recipe Notes

Store fried beef empanadas (leftovers) in a clean airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Heat in the oven before serving.

pastel de carne

31 Responses to Quick Fried Beef Empanadas (Pastel de Carne Rápido)

  1. Liz August 5, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

    I love the wonton skin shortcut! And I can see why ground beef is such a popular filling as your empanadas look so darned tempting!

  2. Raymund August 5, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    I want to snack on this one, perhaps with beer as well. Love this.

    • Denise Browning August 5, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

      Beer is great option as well. I love mine with guaraná soda.

  3. Chris @ The Café Sucré Farine August 5, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

    What a wonderful idea to use wonton wrappers. These look just wonderful. I could easily make a meal on these.

  4. [email protected] Chef August 6, 2014 at 2:55 am #

    wow, great savoury snack,
    here in Indonesia we used to called it panada, it’s stuffed with spicy shredded smoked skipjack fish,
    nice quicky pastel version!!!

    • Denise Browning August 6, 2014 at 9:02 am #

      Hi, Dedy! It seems that several cultures have their own version of this fried pastry. Fillings and shape are what differ one from the other.

  5. Shashi @ runninsrilankan August 6, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    I love your idea to use wonton wrappers for these little empanadas! Such a wonderful treat, Denise!

    • Denise Browning August 6, 2014 at 9:02 am #

      Thanks, Shashi! Wonton wraps are a blessing in disguise. It is the best shortcut ever….

  6. Sugar et al. August 6, 2014 at 7:47 am #

    I use wonton wrappers for quite a few different snacks. Making empanadas with them is such a clever idea. I can’t wait to give these delicious empanadas a try!

    • Denise Browning August 6, 2014 at 9:04 am #

      Wonton wraps are also great for making ravioli without having to spend a long time in the kitchen. This is what I intend to make next time.

  7. [email protected] Riffs August 6, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    I love those wonton wrappers — you can use them for so many different things. Never would have tought to use them in empanadas, though. Love the idea, and the recipe. Thanks!

  8. Juliana August 6, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    Hahaha! I thought you made massa para pastel and realized that you used wonton wraps…love the twist!
    Hope you are having a great week Denise:D

    • Denise Browning August 6, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

      Thanks, Juliana! Wonton wraps made my live much easier. Hehe! Likewise.

  9. Little Cooking Tips August 7, 2014 at 1:56 am #

    Those are going to be a huge hit here. There’s a similar treat called kimadopita, and similar smaller versions which look almost the same as your empanadas! The difference is we use traditional, hard phyllo pastry (which must be the same as wonton when fried) 🙂
    What a delicious way to start our day (it’s morning here), reading your yummy post:) Of we go, to buy some minced meat!
    Thank you Denise!
    Lots of love,
    Panos and Mirella

    • Denise Browning August 7, 2014 at 9:05 am #

      Panos and Mirella: Thank you! Phyllo dough can also be used to make these. It is a great shortcut so one doesn’t have to make the dough from scratch. I hope you make yours with phyllo dough and enjoy these.

      • Little Cooking Tips August 8, 2014 at 11:35 am #

        We tried them yesterday with phyllo, and they were amazing! We didn’t last for more than a few minutes, as we served them on the table with Panos’ parents and grandparents, so they disappeared instantly:) We were sure they’ll be a hit:)
        Thank you for another delicious recipe dear!

        • Denise Browning August 8, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

          Mirella: I am so happy to hear that Panos’ family approved these. Thanks to both of you for trying this quick recipe. My husband is crazy for these empanadas. He ate and ate… because of it, I could taste only a few… 🙂 Wishing you a wonderful week in the beautiful Greece. xo

  10. francesca August 7, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    What is it about that half-moon shape that’s so great?
    I love the idea of beef-stuffed wanton empanadas~!!!

    • Denise Browning August 7, 2014 at 10:01 am #

      When dough is prepared from scratch, a disc is often cut out and when folded, pastel or empanada gets that half-moon shape. It is the most common shape for empanadas for sure!!! But when one prepare them from wonton wraps, this is the shape that you see: Yes, they look like ravioli. 🙂

  11. Deb August 8, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    Oh my goodness! These tempting empanadas would keep my family very happy, but only if I made a double batch! Adore the quick prep paired with so much great flavor.

    • Denise Browning August 8, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

      Deb: Thanks a lot! The wonton wraps are a great sub for dough made from scratch. I have been so busy lately that making a dough from scratch would be a hassle.

  12. [email protected] latest health tips August 9, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    Great snack for my tea time.

  13. Deepti August 10, 2014 at 4:27 am #

    A smack to munch on! We make this in a very similar way having a spicy mix as a filling as well as coconut and sugar mixture too..

    • Denise Browning August 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

      How interesting, Deepti! I would love to try your coconut-sugar filled empanadas.

  14. Mi Vida en un Dulce August 12, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

    My mother used to make fried empanada but filled with what we call fresh cheese, but filled with meat is a wonderful idea.

    • Denise Browning August 13, 2014 at 9:19 am #

      Thanks, Nydia! In Brazil, there are many different fillings for empanadas but ground beef is the most popular filling.

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